Seniors Are Carrying Record Sums of Education Debt Into Retirement

One of the challenges for financial planners in dealing with Baby Boomers approaching their actual (hoped-for) retirement dates has to do with assisting them in addressing their oft-substantial debt loads. Carrying debt has long been a fact of life for Americans, as taking out loans to pay for life’s “finer things” has become not only more fashionable, but a standard practice. Gone, for example, are the days when significant numbers of people would expect to wipe out their home mortgages before they actually retire; a desire to continue to improve the size and quality of one’s residence, as well as the temptation to cash in on the accumulated equity in order to buy this or that, have made carrying a mortgage into retirement now typical for so many entering their Golden Years.

Well, as it turns out, it’s not just mortgages, car loans, and credit card balances that folks approaching retirement are seeing fit to keep as a part of their financial profiles; add education-related debt to the list, as well. That’s right, I said education debt. It’s not, however, what you may be thinking. I’m not talking about Boomers who are still working to pay off school loans they took out as undergraduates, or even loans they took out more recently when they decided to return to college as working adults. The education-related debt plaguing a growing number of retirees and near-retirees pertains to the loans they took out to assist children and grandchildren with the costs of their educations.

According to the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute, adults in the age category of 65 to 74 are presently carrying almost six times more education debt than they were 25 years ago. Up significantly over the recent decades, education-related debt now represents roughly 15 percent of the total installment debt retirees are taking with them into retirement. For so-called pre-retirees, in the age category of 55 to 64, the picture is uglier, with education debt now representing 30 percentof the total in installment debt they’re lugging around. The weight of these obligations is only going to compound the financial difficulties now facing retirees, who are already carrying record amounts of other debt with them into the land of fixed incomes.

The fact is that as the financial circumstances for so many in America remain very challenging, more people are going to have to re-think just how it is they hope to assist younger family members in meeting the expenses associated with higher education. While it’s nice, on the one hand, that a lot of older Americans are very willing to take on this kind of debt for the benefit of children and grandchildren, the reality is that this is not a sustainable financial profile with which to enter retirement. The answer, in part, may be for the “seasoned” members of the family to engineer broader discussions with children over how education-related expenses should be met. As younger family members are approaching college age, it may be appropriate for grandparents …

Cellular Automata

The study of cellular automata is an exciting new area of mathematical and scientific research. In

fact, in “A New Kind of Science”, mathematician Stephen Wolfram argues that the study of complexity arising from considering cellular automata is the starting point of a new scientific revolution. Although I wouldn’t go this far, I do find them quite fascinating.

A cellular automaton (CA) is a set of cells with states which evolve according to a set of deterministic rules. The simplest cellular automata have cells with just two possible states, off and on, and evolve according to very simple rules, usually involving just neighboring cells. Wolfram studied all 256 one-dimensional two-state cellular automata which evolve according to nearest neighbor rules. He then divided these automata into four classes according to the type of behavior they exhibit. Class 1 cellular automata eventually evolve to a state in which all cells are either off or on. Class 2 cellular automata evolve into a predictable pattern, i.e. alternating off and on cells. Class 3 cellular automata exhibit what appears to be random behavior. Finally, Class 4 cellular automata, which are the most interesting, evolve into states exhibiting nonrandom but nevertheless unpredictable structure. Wolfram believes that Class 4 cellular automata are akin to Turing machines and as such may be capable of universal computation.

The most well-known CA is Conway’s Game of Life. This is a two-dimensional two-state CA played on an infinite square grid. The rules are very simple. An on cell with two or three of its eight nearest neighbors on stays on in the following generation, otherwise it turns off, and an off cell with three nearest neighbors on turns on in the next generation, otherwise it stays off. These simple rules give rise to surprisingly complex structures, including still lifes (patterns that don’t change), oscillators (patterns which repeat), spaceships (patterns which move), and a variety of complex patterns which experience regular unlimited growth. In 1982, Conway showed that the Game of Life supports Turing machines, and the first one was constructed in 2002.…

The Science of Getting Rich – Fact or Fiction?

The Science of Getting Rich, by Wallace Wattles – sounds amusing does not it? In truth, this the name of a book first published in 1910 by Wallace D. Wattles. Rhonda Byrne states that this publication was one of the major inspirations for her hit film and book, The Secret.

I have to admit that I sometimes find it difficult to wrap my head around the Law of Attraction. I want to understand, but some of the explanations of this material are so convoluted I am made to feel like a dog chasing its tail!

Wattles states in the preface to his book:

"This book is pragmatical, not philosophical; a practical manual, not a treat upon theories. It is intended for the men and women which most pressing need is for money; who wish to get rich first, and philosophize afterwards."

I believe this practical approach explains why The Science of Getting Rich is even more popular today than it was a 100 years ago.

Wallace Wattles writes that getting rich is an "exact science". There are certain laws, that when learned, will lead you to riches with "mathematical certainty".

These laws hinge on one fundamental principle – the power of thought. Wattles explains that anything we desire, be it a house or a large bank account, can come into existence simply by "impressing (our) thought upon formless substance."

However simple this may sound, he says that in order to do this, we must abandon any competitive nature we may have and use our creative mind. Formless Intelligence, as Wattles calls it, is never competitive in spirit.

In The Science of Getting Rich, Wattles emphasizes that we must get rid of the knowledge that there is some Deity in the sky who wants us to be poor. He believes that choosing a life of poverty for altruistic reasons is no better than those who lead extremely selfish lives.

He states: "Put poverty behind you, and put all that pertains to it behind you …" Being rich, Wattles believes, is the best way anyone can really help the poor.

The Law of Gratitude is an important component of The Science of Getting Rich . Wattles strongly asserts that, even if we are following all other laws, failing to be thankful will keep us stuck in poverty.

In other words, if I constantly focus on the negative things happening around me, I "loose ground" and continue to attract more negative things into my life. The concept of gratitude took me a while to grasp, but it is key!

Focus on everything that is currently right in your life and thank God, the Universe, or, as Wattles calls it "Intelligent Substance". It does not really matter what you call it, just be thankful!

To attract what you desire in live you must have a very clear picture of what it is you want, hold onto it in your mind and always be thankful! …